The talented but fragile Benie Des Dieux will not be heading over to Cheltenham next month, with trainer Willie Mullins confirming this evening that the ten year old, four-time Grade 1 winner will not form part of his 2021 Festival team.

“Benie Des Dieux hasn’t been pleasing me in our quest to get her to Cheltenham and regrettably we have had to make the decision to withdraw her from the festival.

“I’ll try to get her to make Punchestown but we’ll have to see how things go. It’s very disappointing for everyone as we thought she would make it to Cheltenham but unfortunately time just ran out.”

Her narrow defeat to Honeysuckle in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle was one of the most memorable contests of the last National Hunt season, but the daughter of Haras de la Hetraie’s Great Pretender has not been seen in public since.

Her absence could leave the path clear in the Mares’ Hurdle for another Mulllins-trained representative, Concertista.  A hugely impressive winner of the Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival last year, she impressed in winning at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown before the New Year and is now as short as 11/10 with Bet365 to gain a second win at Prestbury Park in March and provide her trainer with a tenth winner in the race since its inception in 2008.